Border Crisis

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Solidarity For Refugee Caravans in Tijuana

This is a directory of information for folks who want to go to Tijuana and provide support for the refugee caravan. My hope is that this document can eventually grow and be shared so that when people head to TJ, they can have a better idea about how they can help. Most of the information is Tijuana-based organization and efforts. I feel this is the best direct way to help folks, without having to go through third parties.

 If you want highlight other efforts or organizations based in Tijuana,  please send me an email with the name of the organization or group, their address, and a list of what they most need. I will post as soon as I can. I’m also open to edits. Pardon any mistakes in advance. xiomi13@yahoo.com

Organizing Center:

There is no one organization where everything is being coordinated. But there are several Tijuana-based organizations that are doing lots of work.  Two of the main organizations are Enclave Caracol and Al Otro Lado.

 Both are located at: Calle Primera 8250, Zona Nte., 22127 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Enclave Caracol:

Is a vegetarian cafe that is providing free food, medical treatment, and a safe space for migrants.  Food Not Bombs Tijuana seems to be co-coordinating the space with them. Please check their Facebook for a list of things they need. But as of 11/17/18, what they need most are VOLUNTEERS to cook and serve food, as well as fresh food to keep feeding folks.

Enclave Caracol works directly with other groups in Tijuana. For various reasons, you may never know who the different groups are, but please trust that that they are helping as best they can.

Kitchen basics like cooking oil, fresh food like onions, carrots, celery, fresh fruit for eating as well as for making agaus frescas (papaya, pineapple, mamey, whatever.  These food should be  in bulk. It is best to buy the food in Tijuana. You can go to el Mercado Hidalgo to buy in bulk and for the best value. Otherwise, you can also go to Costco, Smart and Final or other local supermarkets.

They are trying to provide nutritious meal , so it is requested that there are NO sodas, flavored drinks, or junk food.

Al Otro Lado:

Provides legal services and information to migrants. They are located on the rooftop of Enclave Caracol and are coordinating their own outreach plan, but also work with Enclave and other groups. They work to get legal observers as well as attorneys out in the field. Al Otro Lado is unique because it coordinates U.S.-based immigration law attorneys to do pro-bono help on the Mexico side of the border. They have Mexico-based staff who are U.S.. immigrant attorneys.

 Al Otro lado has been in Tijuana for a while and has been helping migrants from Tijuana.  They want more people to come be legal observers, do “Know Your Rights” information (must speak fluent Spanish, and immigration attorneys.  If you wish to volunteer with them you can show up at their office (located on the roof of Enclave Caracol) in the morning (10am). You can also email volunteer@alotrolado.org.


 INFORMING MIGRANTS ABOUT ASYLUM

You DON’T HAVE TO BE AN ATTORNEY to do some of this work.  But if you don’t know anything about asylum law, do some reading before you go so you have a basic framework about what is going on.  You can read here some basic info on the process.

There are several lawsuits being launched to push back on the unfair and inhumane practices at the border. But while these get resolved, migrants need updated information on the process and what is happening so that they can make informed choices about what to do next.

Remember, this is not the first immigrant caravan so there are on-going issues with the asylum process, not unique to this current caravan, but things are certainly worse. Below is the

On-going information that migrants need:

Getting a Number:

When you apply for asylum, you are supposed to enter the process right away. There is a wait list created by the Mexican government in conjunction with Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) because there is not enough personnel at the US border to handle these cases. While this wait list is actually not legal, it is what is currently in place and the Know Your Rights work is to let people know about this process. Currently, there is a 4-6 week  wait for your number to be up. As more people arrive, we expect people to be waiting for up to 6 months. Here is an article on the precarious situation of unaccompanied minors in this process.

New Rule Issued by Trump:

Asylum law permits someone to ask for asylum when they enter the US, if they are apprehended by  CPB as they cross, or if they already live in US and are in deportation proceedings. Trump has issued a change and now anyone asking for asylum must ask for it immediately at a legit border crossing. Anyone who tries to cross another way and gets caught will NOT be eligible for asylum. While this is illegal, and probably contrary to the US constitution, this is information migrants need so they can make decisions on how they want to proceed.  This new “rule” by has been stalled in the courts and you can read more here.


DONATIONS

Taking donations from the U.S. to Mexico can be challenging. Custom in Mexico has a website which walks you through how to bring in donations.  Scroll to the bottom for English version. It is unclear if Mexican customs officials even know or respect that process. If you have experiences you want to share or update on a better process, please email xiomi13@yahoo.com with the Subject Line: Getting through Mexican Customs.

 For those bringing in donations, please consider that you may be returned to the US with your donations, or in worst case scenario, you will have your donations confiscated. Some people advise to bring things only in your trunk, put them in luggage NOT plastic garbage bags in order to draw less attention to yourself.

You can also support the local economy by purchasing items in Mexico.

You can donate straight to organizations or you can also take your donations straight to areas where folks from the caravan are camping out.  These are the folks most in need.

Some groups are hesitant to accept cash donations for various reasons. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but learn to take no for an answer. Folks have their reasons.

The largest place is Unidad Deportiva Benito Juarez, which is holding about 5,000 + people. Many people are living on the streets as well. There is currently no central area for giving donations at Benito Juarez (BJ). Many people just talked to the police about driving in with their clothing donations and handed out themselves. This can become overwhelming as a group may form around your car and people might start grabbing things. Things may change and get more organized as time goes by. So try speaking to someone inside first. 

Recommendation is to NOT drop your donations off at the Tent in front of Benito Juarez.  The Tijuana Authorities have been hoarding donations and they have not been getting to people in the camp.

You may bring donations from the U.S. into Mexico with no problem unless you are bringing a truckload or big-ticket items like appliances.

Donations to Organizations:

Here is a link to a list of existing Albergues/shelter for Migrants in Baja California (the State where Tijuana is located) and what they offer.

Enclave Caracol (Food Not Bombs Tijuana):

Address: Cale Primera 8250, Zona Nte., Tijuana, B.C. Mexico, enclavecaracol@gmail.com - Chris +52-1-664-669-9045

  • For men’s clothing, please donate smaller sizes:

    • Men’s Pants Sizes 28, 29, 30, and 32

    • Men’s T-shirts and Pants size Small & Medium

    • Adjustable Belts (men’s size 32 and under)

  • For women’s clothing please donate smaller sizes:

    • Women’s Pants sizes 2-12 (small and medium)

    • Women’s shirts sizes extra small, small, medium

  • Baby Formula (which we could buy in Mex if you can donate money for it)

  • Tents and sleeping bags (ideally bought in Tijuana since CBP is preventing people from bringing donations)

Jardin de Mariposas (Centro de Rehabilitación):

Yolanda Rocha founded el Jardin over five years ago out of a labor of love. Most rehab centers discriminate against trans people, obligating them to cut their hair, dress according to their assigned gender, etc. El Jardin accepts and affirms people’s identities as well as helps them kick their addiction, find a job, and thrive. They also develop leadership skills of residents to become activists. Tijuana is still a largely homophobic and transphobic place-- it’s one of the most conservative cities in Mexico. Because it is a rehab center, they are not able to house folks that are not in recovery.  If you wish to make a donation, please email jardindelasmariposas2014@gmail.com or call 664 5292417 Yolanda will arrange a place for you to meet if needed. They are looking for:

  • Fresh Food for cooking daily meals

  • Hygiene products (soap, toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning supplies)

  • Gently used Clothes & Shoes (for women and men)

  • For someone to pay their monthly bills (can be one-time donation). Yolanda does not take cash, she insists on giving you the bill and having you go pay to corresponding agency)

Instituto Madre Asunta:

Address: Calle Galileo 2305, Buena Vista, Lopez Leyva, 22416 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

This shelter for cis-women and their children. They have 40 beds, but 140 people staying there. Here is what you can donate to them

  • Mattresses (can be roll-up); buy locally if possible

  • Bed Clothes, blankets

  • Gently used Clothes & Shoes for women and children ages 0-17

  • New Underwear and socks

  • Food Staples in bulk: Rice, Beans, Lentils (and other grains), Onions, Carrots, Squash, Fresh Fruit, Sugar, Salt, Spices

  • They might take cash donations

Casa Del Migrante:

Address: Calle Galileo 239, Postal, Lopez Leyva, 22416 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

Directly across the street from Instituto Asunta, this is a cis-men shelter. Some of the men have partners and kids staying at Asunta. Here is what you can donate to them

  • Mattresses

  • Bed Clothes, blankets

  • Clothes & Shoes for me

  • Food Staples in bulk: Rice, Beans, Lentils (and other grains), Onions, Carrots, Squash, Fresh Fruit, Sugar, Salt, Spices

  • My experience is that they take cash donations.

Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava:

For almost 20 years, this place has offered meals to migrants coming through Tijuana. My understanding is that they offer food to anyone that comes in and is respected by many people, including LGBT leaders. We will try to visit this place and ask what donations they are most in need of.

The Wound Clinic:

For the past three years, a group of volunteers has been working side by side with Tijuana physician, Patricia Zuniga Gonzalez providing compassionate medical care to thousands of homeless people in Tijuana. Inspired by her work and moved by the degree of need in these patients, One Small House is serving as fiscal sponsor for her movement: The Wound Clinic.

The clinic operates from the Enclave Caracol space, 2nd Floor.

If you are interested in supporting this work, you can volunteer by contacting clinicawound@gmail.com.

 Supplies are purchased in Tijuana and you can donate directly through their website.


MORE TOPICS TO COME:

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:

LOGISTICS IN MEXICO:

  •  Driving vs. Not Driving

  • Cash & Money Exchange

RESPECTING CULTURE, AUTONOMY, AND OTHER PEOPLE’S SPACE

Reserve Judgement and Questions:  There are a million reasons why people are coming to Tijuana. Be thoughtful about what you ask and don’t press people if they are not willing to share.

 Local organizers and service organization are working very hard and are trying to scale up to be able to meet the needs but are very under resourced for the level of people who have arrived.  Please hold off judgment.  Folks are in the crisis management mode and working very hard. 

 (more to come…)

Safety: 

  • Use Gas Masks for protection from Tear Gas

  • In case of tear gas exposure, saline solution is recommended.

  • Any exposed skin should be washed with soap and water. Shower first in cold water, then warm water. Do not bathe.

  • Don't rub your eyes or face, or this will reactivate any crystals.

Background Context:

Radio interview with Bartolo Fuentes, the man the dictator accuses of organizing the caravan, is useful both because of the breadth of context he gives as well as because the line of questioning by the reporter gives the mainstream line and then he responds point by point really powerfully.

Short Video on the U.S.-supported Honduran dictator Juan Orlando Hernandez electoral fraud and some of the root causes on why people are fleeing Hondurans.  Here a good documentary about the 2009 coup https://youtu.be/K0BR_fcLfic

This has good synopsis of immediate backdrop, although written about previous caravan: